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date: 22 October 2018

Cognitive Regulation

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Cognitive regulation refers to the self-directed regulation of cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, affects) toward the attainment of goals. Cognitive regulation can occur before individuals engage in tasks, while they are working on them, during pauses, and when tasks are completed while individuals reflect on their performances. Researchers have addressed which cognitive regulation processes are used during various phases of task engagement; how these processes differ among individuals due to ability, achievement levels, and development; how cognitive regulation processes operate during task engagement; and which interventions can effectively help persons become better cognitive regulators.

Research findings imply that teachers and others can help individuals improve their cognitive regulation skills. Some important processes are goal-setting, strategy use and adaptation, monitoring of cognition and performance, motivation (e.g., self-efficacy), and self-evaluation. Effective interventions expose students to models displaying these skills and provide for practice with feedback. Limitations of the present research should be addressed: most research has been conducted in controlled or formal settings such as classrooms. More research is needed in less-formal settings such as in out-of-school settings and during mentoring interactions. Additional research is needed on how cultural differences may affect cognitive regulation. Research is needed involving technology, because the effective use of technology can assist the development of cognitive regulation.